Children march along Lancaster Drive during Salem's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
"This march is not about the numbers. It's about the commitment."
Benny Williams, Salem-Keizer's NAACP president, kicked off Salem's Martin Luther King Jr. Day march by urging the nearly 100 marchers to defend the civil rights leader's legacy.
He spoke of renewed efforts to restrict voting in the U.S. and roll back the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, something King and other civil rights leaders fought for.
"We're not going to allow that," he said. "We're all equal, to have access to all of the privileges that being an American provides for us."
Salem-Keizer NAACP President Benny Williams leads the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march out of the McKay High School parking lot (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Marchers walk along Wolverine Street Northeast after leaving McKay High School (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Attendance was lower than in previous years, but true to Williams' call, those who did show up were in it for the long haul.
The group marched from McKay High School south along Lancaster Street Northeast for a mile and a half before turning around at Willamette Town Center and marching back.
They drew honks of support from many drivers, even when the group briefly stopped traffic to get the full line of people across the street.
Some attendees sang spirituals into a bullhorn and led chants of "The time is always right to do what is right."
Salem-Keizer students on the district's Student Equity Committee made signs bearing quotes from Dr. King for marchers to carry. Many attendees came with their own.
Marchers cross Market Street Northeast on the way back to McKay High School (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Marchers walk down Lancaster Drive for Salem's 25th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Tim Kindell directs marchers across Sunnyview Road during Martin Luther King Jr. Day march along Lancaster Drive (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
The march followed a community event at McKay High School, organized jointly by the NAACP and Salem-Keizer School District's Office of Student Equity, Access and Advancement.
People attending could get free blood pressure screenings, help with housing, connections for jobs and information on mental healthcare. A handful registered to vote or updated their information at a table staffed by the League of Women Voters and Marion County Clerk Bill Burgess.
Dwight Roberson, a Salem-Keizer School District community outreach specialist, passes out signs made by district students for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Attendees sample food from McKay High School culinary students at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at McKay High School (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter) Maleah Perryman, left, speaks with Kathleen West from the League of Women Voters about registering to vote (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
For some, the day was a family affair. Wilma Marchbanks, a Salem resident and anti-racism educator, attended with children and grandchildren.
"We're usually deep," said her daughter, Earlysia Marchbanks. She said she appreciated the student involvement in the McKay event.
Nearly everyone made it the full 3 miles back to McKay, with many of the march's younger members sprinting the final hundred yards across the school parking lot.
When the march leaders caught up, they gathered the group in a circle to pray, urging everyone to leave with a renewed desire to do good for others and champion equality.
Children from the Marchbanks family get ready to begin marching for Martin Luther King Jr. Day at McKay High School (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day march along Lancaster Drive (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Pastor Wade Harris leads a prayer circle following the Martin Luther King Jr. Day march at McKay High School (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)